When people enter the teaching profession, they usually think of it as a lifelong career. However, for those who decide they need a change of direction, insurance companies are now offering a number of challenging options for former academics looking for something a bit different.
Raymond Tam, vice president of agency for Sun Life Financial (HK) Ltd, confirms that many attributes and soft skills are transferable from the teaching profession to the field of insurance and financial consulting.
"Consultants are required to be a good listeners and to understand how to build the long-term well-being of clients," Mr Tam notes. "All good teachers have these interpersonal skills and are used to guiding or persuading students to do what is best for them."
Although Sun Life has not previously targeted recruits from the education sector, there have been several recent cases of teachers successfully switching to insurance. "We are now looking more closely at making this a part of our future recruitment strategy," says Mr Tam. "It can create a 'win-win' situation, where teachers struggling with stress at work can make a career change and the insurance company can benefit from the qualities they bring."
With the revived economy, there should be many opportunities. "We expect growth of at least 20 per cent from retirement investment income," Mr Tam notes. Sun Life is therefore planning to expand its workforce from 500 to about 2,000 in the next two years. To meet these targets, the company will also link up with schools to organise briefings and seminars for students in order to introduce the range of career opportunities within the insurance and financial consulting industry.
For new recruits, a professional development centre has been set up to provide comprehensive training for both new and more experienced consultants. The one-year programme, including classroom training, workshops, role-plays and a mentoring system, leads consultants through everything needed for their professional licence. "Specifically, we get team managers to show new consultants how to communicate with clients and develop listening and analytical skills," says Mr Tam.